Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mini Reviews: Animal Picturebooks

All the Awake Animals Are Almost Asleep
by Crescent Dragonwagon
illustrated by David McPhail

In this lyrical animal ABC book, a mother tries to tuck her child in for the night by telling him about all the awake animals that are getting sleepy. From antlered Antelope to zzz-ing Zebra, this alphabet of animals becomes an exquisite celebration of language and nature, just right for lulling even the most wide-awake little ones into a cozy, soothing slumber. (description from

This is a beautiful book. The illustrations are sweet watercolors full of amazing animals.  While there are animals that young children are certain to recognize, the author took this as a good opportunity to also teach young readers about other animals that have interesting and unusual names.  For example, as you can see here, the E is for Elephant, but D is for Dromedary (a type of camel), and Q is for Quetzal, a colorful tropical bird. 

Each page also features a large letter.  Though it is great that the letter is shown on each page, I wish that the letter were done in regular script.  The cursive letters look pretty, but young readers do not usually recognize cursive script.

I also wish that the entire book had continued the rhyming of the first few and final pages.  When the mother addresses the child there is a sleepy rhythm that is established. 


My little one, lay down your head.
It's time to doze, it's time for bed.
   You tell me, "I'm not sleepy now."
   "Just try," I say. You ask me, "How?"
I know the rhyme was not the focus of the book, though, and in terms of using the alliteration, the author did a great job.  This will make a great bedtime book for parents to explore with young children.

Full disclosure: Finished Copy received from publisher for review

What's New at the Zoo?
by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
illustrations by Travis Foster
The hilarious happenings, grumblings and rumblings, at an overcrowded zoo are comically chronicled by Broadway/Hollywood legends Adolph Green and Betty Comden and acclaimed illlustrator Travis Foster. (description from

This one made me laugh out loud.  With lines like, "Ouch! You're stepping on my pouch!" to the bear said the kangaroo, and "Oh! You're stepping on my toe!" to the kangaroo said the gnu, I giggled my way through this one.  With some pages that have flaps that kids can turn and bright, colorful illustrations, I think this book would be a hit with most young readers.  It would also make for a fun, and only slightly tongue-tying read aloud.

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my library

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